Materials Recovery Frequently Asked Questions

What is Materials Recovery?
Materials Recovery is the process of retrieving overdue Library materials and collecting fines. The Library uses the services of Unique Management Services to handle accounts with overdues or fines of $25 or more.
Who is Unique Management Services?
Unique Management Services partners with hundreds of libraries around the country to recover overdue materials and monies. It works exclusively with libraries and understands their special needs.
What happens if I have an overdue item?
When an item is overdue 5 days, customers are notified by the Library either through telephone or email, depending on which option was chosen by the customer. A second notice is sent on day 15, and, if items are not returned by 45 days from the original due date, the item becomes billed and a fine for the cost of the item is added to the customer’s account. If the customer’s account reaches $25.00, the customer is sent a Final Bills Notice. If the account isn’t paid below $25.00 within 30 days, the account is turned over to Unique Management. A $10 processing fee is also added to the account.
What happens if I return overdue items that are not yet 5 days overdue, but I owe more than $25 in bills?
The new overdue charges are added to the account.
When will my account be turned over to Unique Management?
If you have fines totaling $25 or more, you will be notified with a final bills notice on Thursday (phone) or Friday (email) that your account will soon be sent to collection. You have 30 days to return materials and/or pay your account down to under $25. If this payment has not happened in 30 days, then your account will be turned over to Unique.
What is the Library's process for handling my account?
  • Day 5: 1st Overdue Notice
  • Day 15: 2nd Overdue Notice (mentions the possibility of collection)
  • Day 45: overdue items are marked as Billed
  • User owes $25 or more in bills: Final Bills Notice sent 30 days before the account is turned over to Unique Management.
What is Unique’s process for handling my account?
  • Day 1: Customer goes into collections and first letter is sent
  • Day 21: 2nd Letter
  • Day 35–58: Initial Placement Phone Calls
  • Day 65 (Secondary Placement): 3rd Letter
  • Day 78–91: Secondary Placement Phone Calls
  • Day 120: Credit Reported
Doesn’t it cost the Library a lot more money to use a collection agency than to pursue overdues itself?
No. The $10 processing fee assessed on accounts turned over to Unique defrays the costs of the service. No capital expenditure is required by the Library to use the material recovery service. Unique Management does not charge in advance.
Are overdue books and materials really a big problem?
Yes. On average, there are nearly 200,000 books and other materials overdue at any time. The value of these items is over $3 million! In addition to the dollar value, this prevents others from enjoying and using materials.
What is the average rate of return for overdue items or fines?
The average rate of return is $4 for every dollar invested. However, many libraries realize much more than that.
Why is the Library so concerned with overdue items?
As a good steward of public funds, we have a responsibility to protect our collection. Based on the items that Unique recovers for libraries, items long overdue tend to be the newer, most popular items. Returning them to the shelves better meets the needs of the community, while at the same time helping us substantially reduce collection replacement costs.
What steps can I take to avoid overdues?
  1. Make sure you put your receipt in a prominent place at home after you check out items and mark the date in your planner or on your calendar.
  2. Sign up for email or text notification. That way, you will receive a courtesy notice emailed or texted to your account two or three days in advance. Or, you can visit your local library and a staff member will assist you to make changes in your account.
  3. Take advantage of renewals. Most items (except videocassettes and DVDs) can be renewed up to 8 times as long as there are no holds and your account is in good standing (movies have different renewal periods). Go online and work with your account to look at items you have checked out, as well as renew items. Or, you can call your local branch or the Main Library 513-369-6913 to renew by phone.